Rocket Launcher Carl-Gustav M4

Rocket Launcher Carl-Gustav M4

Carl-Gustaf M4 (CGM4) is a man-portable, shoulder-launched weapon system designed and developed by Swedish defence and security firm Saab to meet a wide range of modern combat needs of infantry forces.

The next-generation multi-role weapon system can be deployed in anti-insurgency / peacekeeping missions and traditional force-on-force conflicts in urban or complex combat environmental conditions.

It is used to destroy armoured tanks with add-on armour protection, to neutralise landing craft and bunkers, and to clear obstacles. It is also used to engage enemies in buildings.

The artillery system was launched at the 2014 Association of the US Army (AUSA) annual meeting and exposition held in Washington DC. It is known as the M3A1 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System (MAAWS) in the US.

Slovakia became the first country to deploy the system, following deliveries made in July 2017.

Carl-Gustaf M4 weapon system development

The Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) is a combat-proven, laser-guided 70mm rocket system designed and manufactured by BAE Systems in collaboration with the US Government.

The Carl-Gustaf M4 weapon system is an advanced derivative of the Carl-Gustaf M3 multipurpose, shoulder-fired recoilless weapon.

Saab conducted a live-fire demonstration of the Carl-Gustaf M4 artillery system at its Bofors Test Center in Karlskoga, Sweden, in September 2014. The system performed a comprehensive series of successful firings against fixed and moving targets during the ground combat systems demonstration.

Customers are offered sub-calibre trainers and full-calibre practice rounds, as well as simulators, to meet their training needs.

Saab and Raytheon developed a laser-guided Carl-Gustaf munition for the Carl-Gustaf M4 recoilless rifle. The companies completed test firings of the munition in October 2019.

Design and features of the multi-role weapon system

The CGM4 features a lightweight, flexible design incorporating titanium-made components and improved carbon fibre wrapping. The recoilless rifle offers enhanced agility and tactical flexibility, allowing military forces to engage multiple tactical targets.

It has a length of less than 1,000mm and weighs under 7kg, making it easy to carry. A gunner and a loader can operate the system.

The weapon system features improved ergonomics and is equipped with an adjustable shoulder rest and front grip. It is also fitted with an integrated shot counter for enhanced logistics and maintenance, and is provided with dual-mode safety features.

Sighting systems

The Carl-Gustaf M4 artillery system is attached with standard clip-on telescopic sight on a picatinny rail, allowing users to install thermal sights or image intensifiers for night-time combat.

Additional sighting systems, including open sight, red dot and intelligent sights, can be optionally mounted based on specific needs of the customer.

Ammunition

The Carl-Gustaf M4 is flexible, with a wide range of existing and future ammunition types,   including anti-armour, anti-structure, multi-role, anti-personnel, and support rounds such as smoke and illumination.

It is also compatible with programmable ammunition to provide dismounted soldiers with advanced capability.

The guided Carl-Gustaf munition will have the capacity to accurately engage stationary or moving targets at distances of up to 2,000m.

Carl-Gustaf weapon system

Carl-Gustaf weapon systems are in service with more than 40 countries. The launch variant Carl-Gustaf M1 entered service in 1948, whereas the second variant Carl-Gustaf M2 became operational in 1964.

Also referred to as MAAWS in the US, the third variant Carl-Gustaf M3 has been in service with the US Army Rangers and US Special Operations Force since 1991. The 1,065m-long, 10kg system features airburst capability and is compatible with various types of ammunition.

Orders and deliveries of Carl-Gustaf M4 weapon system

Saab secured a contract from the launch customer, Slovak Republic in September 2015, for the supply Carl-Gustaf M4 system.

Saab signed a contract with the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to deliver ammunition for MAAWS in October 2015.

In January 2016, Saab secured a contract worth approximately $164m (Skr1.4bn) to supply ammunition for the Carl-Gustaf weapon system to an undisclosed customer. A $14.5m (Skr122m) contract was awarded by the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) in August the same year for the supply of Carl-Gustaf M4 ammunition.

The fourth contract for the Carl-Gustaf M4 weapon system was placed from an undisclosed customer in December 2016.

The FMV signed a framework agreement with Saab in April 2018 to purchase the Carl-Gustaf ammunition for the Swedish Armed Forces for a base period of three years, with a four-year extension option. Orders were placed in May 2018.

Saab received an order worth $16m (Skr135m) from the US Department of Defense (DoD) for the Carl-Gustaf ammunition in June 2018.

The company also received an order valued at $12.7m (Skr110m) from the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) in the same month, under a framework agreement signed by the NDMA in September 2017.

The Estonian Centre for Defence Investment placed a Carl-Gustaf ammunition order worth $20.8m (Skr186m) in July 2018, under the framework agreement signed by the FMV. The Australian Army placed orders for the supply of undisclosed number of Carl-Gustaf M4 systems in September 2018.

The Latvian Ministry of Defense awarded a $21.12m (Skr170m) order for Carl-Gustaf ammunition in October 2018.

A month later, Saab was awarded an order to deliver Carl-Gustaf M4 weapon systems to the Slovenian Armed Forces.

Saab received orders for the delivery of Carl-Gustaf M4 worth $54.32m (Skr492m) from an undisclosed customer in December 2018.

The US DoD placed $16m (Skr145m) orders from the US DoD for the supply of Carl-Gustaf ammunition in January 2019. A month later, the US Army and Saab entered an agreement worth $19m (Skr170m) for the delivery of Carl-Gustaf M4 weapon systems.

The Australian Army placed orders worth $18m (Skr168m) for Carl-Gustaf ammunition in April 2019.

In May 2020, Saab secured orders from Latvian Armed Forces and Estonian Armed Forces for delivering Carl-Gustaf M4 which will be delivered between 2021 and 2024.

Specifications

  • Calibre: 84 mm rifled (24 lands, progressive twist)
  • Crew: 2 optimal, 1 minimal
  • Weight:
    • (M2) 14.2 kg (31 lb)
    • (M3) 10 kg (22 lb)
    • (M4) 7 kg (15 lb)
  • Length:
    • (M2) 1,130 mm (44 in)
    • (M3) 1,065 mm (41.9 in)
    • (M4) 1,000 mm (39 in)
  • Effective firing range
    • 350 to 400 m against moving vehicles
    • 500 m against stationary vehicles
    • 1000 m using smoke and high explosive rounds
    • 2000 m using rocket-boosted laser guided ammunition
  • Breech: Hinged
  • Rate of fire: 6 rounds per minute
  • Sights: Iron sights, optical 3×, laser rangefinder, image intensification system
  • Service life:
    • (M3) 500 rounds
    • (M4) 1000 rounds

Ammunition

Improvements to the ammunition have been continual. While the older HEAT rounds are not particularly effective against modern tank armor, the weapon has found new life as a bunker-buster with an HEDP round. In addition, improved HEAT, high explosive (HE), smoke and illumination (star shell or flare) ammunition is also available. For full effectiveness, illumination rounds have to be fired at a very high angle, creating a danger for the gunner as the backblast from firing can burn him. For this reason, several armies have retired the illumination rounds, while the U.S. Army requires that they be fired from a standing position.

Note that the following are Swedish designations (other countries use similar terminology, replacing the “FFV – Försvarets Fabriksverk”)

  • FFV401 is an Area Defence Munition designed as a close-range anti-personnel round. It fires 1100 flechettes over a wide area.
  • FFV441 is an HE round, useful in a “lobbed” trajectory to 1,000m, which can be fused to either detonate on impact or as an airburst.
  • FFV441B is an HE round with an effective range against personnel in the open of 1,100 m. The round arms after 20 to 70 m of flight, weighs 3.1 kg, and is fired at a muzzle velocity of 255 m/s.
  • FFV469 is a smoke round fired like the FFV441, with a range of about 1,300 m. The 3.1 kg round is also fired at 255 m/s.
  • FFV502 is an HEDP round with the ability to be set to detonate on either impact or one-tenth of a second afterwards. Effective range is 1,000 m against dispersed soft targets such as infantry in the open, 500 m against stationary targets and 300 m against moving targets. Minimum range is 15 to 40 m to arm the warhead. Penetration exceeds 150 mm of rolled homogeneous armour (RHA). Ammunition weight is 3.3 kg and muzzle velocity is 230 m/s.
  • FFV509 is an ASM (Anti-Structure Munition), designed especially for destroying buildings and other types of urban constructions. The fuse has two modes, impact or a delayed function.
  • FFV545 is an illuminating star shell, fired up to 2,300 m maximum range, but with an effective envelope of 300 to 2,100 m. Suspended by parachute, the star shell burns for 30 seconds while producing 650,000 candela, providing a 400 to 500 m diameter area of illumination.
  • FFV551 is the primary HEAT round and is a rocket-assisted projectile (RAP). Effective range is up to 700 m (400 m against moving targets) and penetration up to 400 mm of RHA. Ammunition weight is 3.2 kg and muzzle velocity is 255 m/s.
  • FFV552 is a practice round with the same ballistics as the 551.
  • FFV651 is a newer HEAT round using mid-flight rocket assistance for ranges up to 1,000m. In theory, it has less penetration than the FFV551, but it includes a stand-off probe for the fuse to improve performance against reactive armour.
  • HEAT 655 CS (Confined Spaces) “high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) round that can be fired by the 84 mm Carl Gustaf recoilless weapon from within small enclosures.”
  • FFV751 is a tandem-warhead HEAT round with an effective range of 500 m and ability to penetrate more than 500 mm of armour. Weight is 4 kg.
  • FFV756 is an MT (Multi Target) ammunition, designed for combat in built-up areas and for incapacitating an enemy under cover inside a building or some type of fortification. The MT 756 uses a tandem charge.
  • Guided Carl Gustaf Munition (GCGM) is a laser guided projectile developed between Saab and Raytheon, featuring a multi-target warhead capable of defeating bunkers and moving light armored vehicles at a range of 2,000 m and capable of being fired from enclosed spaces; demonstrations planned for 2020.

Operators

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